No holiday runs 100 per cent smoothly. There’s always some little thing, one tiny hitch, that causes more chaos than it should; it’s normal and it’s all part of the fun!
There is no way to avoid these setbacks, whether it’s breaking down on the way to the airport or realising that your passports aren’t in your bag where they should be, but back at home, safely stowed in your dresser drawer.
When you are in a big city like London, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. Maybe you get on the wrong tube, or end up in New Covent Garden with a pair of theatre tickets, scratching your head, looking at a housing estate building site.
These things happen, and while you can’t completely ensure they won’t, you can take a few precautions to ensure that as few mistakes as possible occur during your time in London.
Get an Oyster card
If you want to make things easier for yourself when travelling around London, just get an Oyster card from the train station when you get to the city!
With this handy piece of plastic in tow, you can travel on the Tube, the Overground, Docklands Light Railway, buses, and all trains up to a certain point.
All you need to do is top it up with money and then touch it on to the Yellow pads that you will find at each station entry way. Hold the card face down for a second until it beeps, flashes green and the door opens for you. Remember to tap the card when you leave the destination station at the end (even if the gate is open, which they can be at busy stations) so you are charged for your journey correctly.
For buses, you have to tap in when you get on (the pads are blue), but not when you alight.
Download a travel app
Getting about London is fairly straightforward once you get the hang of things, but, with it being such a large city, there’s quite a bit to understand and a travel app can help.
Citymapper is one of the most popular apps in use at the moment and, besides being free, you can also use it in a number of other cities (Paris, Barcelona, etc).
It could not be simpler to use; all you do is input where you would like to go through the post code or the landmark’s name (this will only work for big attractions), and the app will plan out the route for you from your current location.
Not only does it give you the quickest way to get to your destination, it also gives you multiple options. If you don’t fancy the tube, you can take the bus; you can even walk, if you’d like to. The app will also tell you if there are any delays or line problems that you need to be aware of.
One thing to note is that you will need the internet to use this; however, you can plan the route using the Wifi at your shaftesbury hotel in bayswater London and make a note of changes or any disruptions that may affect your journey.
Alternatively, you can use the Transport for London website to check for delays and problems with buses and Tube lines.
Don’t try and cram everything into one day
London is huge and its attractions are spread out all over the city. And while some are close to one another, you don’t want to cram too many onto your daily itinerary.
This is a recipe for disaster and a surefire way to cause one of those holiday disasters we are trying to avoid.
A good way to plan out your itinerary is to look at the attractions in a certain area and the transport links between them. This way, you can spend the morning in one place, seeing a number of sights before heading off to another part of London in the afternoon.
For example, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Palace, Big Ben, Horse Guards Parade and Leicester Square are all located fairly close to each other (in London terms) and so seeing them in a shorter space of time is fairly easy.
Likewise, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Shard and Borough Market are situated in the same general area – it really depends what you want to see and how long you have to spare in the capital.
The best museums are free
All London’s best museums are free, so don’t waste money on the ones that aren’t (unless there’s something you really want to see).
The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A are all within walking distance from one another in west London.